I was running, running through a river of blood, running from the tempting voices behind me.
"Let go." "Calm down." "Hear us." "Have you seen my daughter?" "Follow me."
The voices of the damned spoke to me. But I kept running away. I ran and ran but I didn't move. A murder of crows gathered nearby to observe. I tried with all my might to run away but the voices only grew closer and closer, I even started to feel their grip. The ghastly cold grip of death on me. Until another voice spoke.
"No. Not yet." A calm and powerful voice spoke.
As the voice spoke everything turned white and in front of me stood a raven.
"Wake now youngling." the raven spoke.
With the raven’s words, I opened up my eyes to find myself laying on a bed of hay in an old decrepit building. The walls made from stone structured like a church with its roof falling apart. Its walls are clad with shelfs of books and candles. Fabric holding an emblem of a circle made of feathers of different varieties, hangs from the parts of the roof that isn’t destroyed as well as parts of the wall.
I try to get myself up, but a sharp pain runs through my body leaving me unable to move.
"Calm yourself child." A calm and precise voice says.
Looking to my side from where the voice came from, I see a lady sitting on her knees beside me. She bore a blindfold over her eyes as well as dark robes covering her body.
The robes were a combination of a blackish gray on the outside, and a darker green lining the inside. As well as a golden thread going along the dress’ form. The same emblem that covered the walls was embroidered into the robes as well.
I had heard of people like this. My parents told me about a tribe of religious scholars called speakers. They were the sworn followers of the 12th god. The goddess of death. They apparently offered her their eyes so that they could speak and see the dead. Giving them access to unusual arcana, like being able to heal wounds.
"W-where am I? What happened?" I ask the speaker, my voice hoarse.
"You are safe child. We are in the house of Lunaria the everlasting. You are safe, hybrid boy. Lunaria has rejected the views of Uranos, which goes the same for us child." The speaker woman tells me.
"What happened? I remember Uranos attacking. Fighting some cloaked members and... Oh gods I... killed..." I say feeling more panicked as I remember what I had done.
I started to breathe rapidly and felt a mixture of disgust, anxiety, sadness, empathy, fear, hopelessness, as well as despair. As all these emotions build up in me, the images of the people I had killed reform in my mind. Despite the pain my body is in, I move myself to the side and throw up after remembering.
"I... I killed them." I say while my hands shake.
I feel the rough hands of the speaker on my shoulder.
"Death is the final state for all. Do not blame thyself for bringing the inevitable. I shall notify your parents you are awake. I will return shortly." She said, her voice somewhat reassuring.
As I lay there, I try to reason with myself.
"I had to. If I didn't, they would have killed me. But what if they had children? What if I just took away the parents of other children? "
The battle repeats in my mind. Seeing my sword cleave the skull of the first man and still feeling how my sword penetrated the cloaked woman's heart. My hands are shaking.
I remember how I had been injured but I felt okay, except for the pain of course. I sit myself up and lift my shirt up. To my surprise, I was not bandaged up. The gash across my stomach was nothing more but a scar with what seemed like small thin green veins growing from it. I continued to search my body for my other injuries. Like the stab wounds by Victor, where the arrow had hit my shoulder and I tried to see how the burn on my back was holding on. From what I could see they had healed, leaving the pain and scars.
"Son!" I heard my mother shout in relief.
From another room, my mother runs out her blouse stained with dry blood. She runs up to me and hugs me.
"Oh, thank the 12, you’re okay." She says hugging me tight.
As she hugs me, I feel how tears start to build up in my eyes.
"I-I killed them. Mom, I killed three people." I tell her my voice shaken and full of sorrow and regret.
Hearing this I feel my mother put her hand on the back of my head and whisper.
"Don’t worry, son. It’s alright. Just breathe. Just breathe. You are safe and alive. That’s what’s most important. I can’t take away your feelings, and you will have to live with it. But so must everyone. Everyone who wishes to carry a sword must always be prepared for the worst and they must live with the faces of their victims." My mother says wanting to comfort me.
"Some pretend the lives they take are not sentient. Just rabid animals. Some ignore what they have done and try to live in bliss. While others live with it. Using the memories to take the next step. Never forgetting what one has done. To live on in their stead. Because no matter what side of the battle you’re on. All are still souls with their own lives. These might not be the words you want to hear but it's the ones I can give you. It's the advice I give you not as your mother, but as a soldier." She says. Holding me tight.
"If you still wish to one day travel and do whatever you wish to do, you have to experience this over and over again. But so must everyone."
I don’t know how long we sat there. I just wouldn't let go of her. However, she was right, and I had realized that. If I wanted to live and explore the world in adventure, I had to go through this again. I just have to accept it. I just have to bottle it up and cry when it gets too much. But why must it be like that?
Why can’t we just live? Why must we have to fight each other? Does it really have to be like this? Children being forced to kill or witness death firsthand just because of who they are?
No. It doesn't. What if there was a place, a kingdom where everyone was safe? Safe from being hunted like animals.
What if someone were to find an obelisk and make their domain that kingdom? What if they found the obelisk at the end of the world?
"I want to be king. That’s why I want to explore." I whispered. Speaking to no one but myself, in reassurement.
"You wish to be king? Well then that road will hold encounters far beyond what you’ve seen now." My mother said to me. Hugging me tighter.
"A giant king. That would be a first." My mother said chuckling a bit wanting to brighten the mood.
After some time in quiet, I ask.
"Where is Father? and Sebastian? What happened after I fell?"
"After you fell the battle held on. I got to you just as you closed your eyes. I carried you here and asked for help. They agreed but told me that they needed help in protecting the building. So, I kept guard. The battle continued far into the evening with casualties on both sides. They eventually retreated back with your father chasing after them using himself as bait to change their focus from Berkton. He has not returned yet, but he will be fine. I lost sight of Sebastian after I left you here, but soon before you woke up, he came to me and asked for forgiveness for not being able to protect you. I of course told him not to worry but he felt responsible for not getting to you faster, and I feel the same. I’m sorry it took us time to find you. Once we realized you had sneaked off, we understood you were here but as soon as the explosions occurred, we ran down." Mother told me.
"What about Henry? I saw a glimpse of him when I was on the roof?" I ask her.
My mother looks at me with a pained stare.
"He is alive but... Now is not the best time to see him." Mother says.
I look down imagining the worst.
"Eh-Your wounds have been all healed up and I would recommend for you to rest up a bit more before you leave." The speaker lady says wanting to change the sorrowful mood.
"Good. It still hurts a lot though." I say to her.
"I have but healed the skin. Not the pain nor the soul." The speaker told me.
"It will of course eventually disappear and is far less of what you would feel. However, your leg. It was badly hurt so the pain might be around a bit longer and in the worst case maybe a limp." the speaker lady told me.
Time went on as I lay there resting up. My mother had left to look for my father, so there I lay with other people who had been getting treated by speakers. Eventually, the sun rays that seeped in through the broken roof disappeared and were replaced with dark clouds of rain. The speakers quickly went to put off some cloth to minimize the amount of rain coming in. Even though they had their eyes sown shut and covered they moved like they could see clearly. After what might have been an hour of rest, I noticed something. A large crowd had gathered near the entrance to the church. Amid the gathering stood a large hulking figure having a brown cloak over its head. With each thumping step the figure took, I saw more of it, and when it had gotten past the crowd, I saw four golden eyes glowing from under its hood. It was my father.
When He got to me, he kneeled down and wrapped one arm around me. His wet cloak pushing up against me.
"(ehFuuuurta eKeta. EhFurta eKeta)" My father spoke in our natural tongue.
(Translation "ehFurta eKeta" means "You’re safe.")
"I am father, and I'm sorry for running out like that. I should have been more careful." I told him hugging him back.
After a while, he helps me up on my feet and we leave the church. Bowing and thanking the speakers for their hospitality.
"Son. It's not safe here anymore. Now Uranos knows I am here as well as they now know of you. So, me and your mother have talked to that man, Sebastian. He apparently has connections to an old friend of ours. He also has a store in the falling city. We have asked him to take you with him. To take you to the falling city." My father said.
"What? I’m leaving? What about you two?" I asked surprised by this.
"It’s the safest option. Since Uranos are most likely planning another attack and Berkton here doesn't have many good fighters to stand up against them. You leaving will be for the best. Now you are strong and so am I and your mother. But Uranos has the number advantage along with even more powerful warriors. So, we can’t be sure to protect you if something happens. Now me and your mother will ambush them and lead them away from you, Sebastian, and the rest of Berkton. And while we do you and Sebastian will have headed off to the falling city. They are all against the Uranos church there so you will be fine. And we will meet you there. I just don’t know when. I want you to know that this is not a decision I want to make. I want you to live here until you feel strong enough to venture out on your own accord... I guess you could see it as you heading out to explore the world just a little sooner than what you had planned." Father says to me.
I only nod.
The rest of the walk home is quiet.
When we get home mother has made food, a piece of roasted ham with eggs and potatoes. It's not as good as fathers but it's good.
"I have something for you" Mother says after we had eaten.
She quickly runs to the weapons storage and comes out with a piece of armor. It’s an iron breastplate with two shoulder guards. It looks like a leather vest that has plated iron covering it. With the mark of an open eye in the center.
"I planned to give this to you when we had gotten the entire set done, but I think it’s good that you have at least some protection." Mother said give me the armor.
"Especially since your skin is still forming." My father said.
"Forming?" I asked.
"Your skin will one day become strong as metal. But don't think you will become invincible because of that." Father explained.
I let out a chuckle at what he said.
"Invincible? That would be nice." I say.
"Get some rest. It might be a while until you get to sleep in a bed again." Mother says. As I head up the spiral stairs to my room.
The next morning, I woke up to my parents talking.
"Are you sure it will work?" Mother said.
"It must." I heard father respond.
I got dressed and headed down.
"Good morning." I said tired.
"What are you talking about?" I ask.
Father then bends down to me and hands me the necklace that I had gotten from auntie Madelline.
"Do you remember this?" Father asked.
"It's the necklace Madeline gave me."
"It is more than just a necklace. It will help you disguise yourself." He told me.
"What. how?" I ask.
"You have to hold it and think of what you need to disguise and say: 'Oh fifth, oh virtue. I asketh thee to hide what’s been seen.' Once you do what you wish to hide will be hidden as long as you wear this." He says handing me the necklace.
"Now gather what you need and head to town. It’s time to leave." Mother told me tears building up in her eyes.
I headed to my room to grab my sword as well as bag containing the armor I had received yesterday along with clothes and my money pouch.
Heading down to town.
When we got down to town, I felt the stares of the people. Some were of concern whilst others were of blame. Getting closer to Sebastian's store I saw a big carriage outside of it full of old burnt books and other personal belongings. Where Sebastian's store once stood now laid just ash and Sebastian who was sweeping around looking for what might have survived.
"Oh, hello there Adam, or I suppose it’s actually Arameth isn’t it? Hahaha." Sebastian said covered in ash.
"Just say whatever is the easiest. I have gotten used to both." I tell him.
"So, I guess you’ve gotten the gist of it from you folks, right? That I’m taking you with me to the falling city?" He asks.
I nod in response.
As I unpack my bag onto the carriage, I hear my father say.
"(De AharUm sektema. Arametha)" My father said, speaking in the language of the giants. His voice full of power and bass.
(Translation: "De AharUm sektema. Arametha" means "Be strong and Be free, Arameth. Be strong be free is an old giant saying)
"(FaRumn aheA tote Irium.)" I respond.
("FaRumn aheA tote Irium." means "I will Live as free as me. Father" usually what one responds with to the saying)
"Not every day you get to hear the tongue of the giants" Sebastian says impressed.
I hug my mother and father goodbye as I step on the carriage. I then put on the Necklace and speak the words.
"Oh fifth, oh virtue. I asketh thee to hide what’s been seen."
As I do it feels like I'm renewed with energy. I feel how my size changes to that of a normal child and when I open my eyes to look in a shard of glass on the ground, I see how I changed.
My eyes became blue and my hair a slight bit darker. I would at least no longer be directly seen as a giant.
As I look at my parents, they seem relieved. Like if they weren’t sure it would work. I feel how the carriage starts to move and so I wave goodbye.
"Don’t take too long!" I shouted to them. As the carriage moves out. On its way to the falling city.